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Comment Re:Is Access actually better for them anyways? (Score 2) 281

Agreed. If there is truly no IT expertise and no budget, then I'd say a spreadsheet is what will serve them best. You can help them set it up, and they'll be much more likely to be able to manage it once your gone. No doubt it will be more error-prone and cumbersome than a relational database, but they'll understand how it works. They can set up organizational processes to make up for the lack of built-in data quality checking.

A simple relational database with a simple front end is great if there's support. It's a bane if there's not.

Comment Re:GiftWorks might work for you. (Score 1) 186

Yep, you're right, Salesforce is a serious contender too. Free is a very good price, but it too should be thought of as "free as in kittens". It's designed for people doing sales, not NPO fundraising, so it's missing a few things that really come in handy for many nonprofit, like tracking of couples/family units. There are good workarounds, however, which involve customizations that's best done by paying someone.

Comment GiftWorks might work for you. (Score 1) 186

I work exclusively with NPOs and databases, and donor tracking is one of thing that nearly every organization needs. As such, it's one of the few niches where for-profits can make some money off of non-profits. So there are a ton of vultures, I mean, solutions that charge way too much for what they offer.

A lot of people mention Raiser's Edge, and I would only recommend that for large non-profits, as in $100,000,000+ annual budget. RE works best when there's a person whose whole job it is to tend to it. The software is pricey and the official Blackbaud training is outrageously exorbitant, but if you're big enough it's mostly worth it.

CiviCRM is a good possibility, but think of it as free as in kittens, not free as in beer. Expect to spend money to get it set up well, unless you're really into being a do-it-yourselfer. DIYers can be a problem for the organization in the long term, though, unless they document their work well. I usually get hired when the DIYer moves on leaving little or no information on how their homespun system works.

One non-free yet affordable solution that I've seen NPOs have experience with is GiftWorks. They're very reasonably priced, and when I met a few of the principals at a conference a few years ago, they really seemed to have their heart in the right place.

Good luck!


German Wikileaks Domain Suspended Without Warning 215

mb writes to mention that Germany has gone one step further in impeding access to Wikileaks. Germany's registration authority, DENIC, recently suspended without notice. "The action comes two weeks after the house of the German WikiLeaks domain sponsor, Theodor Reppe, was searched by German authorities. Police documentation shows that the March 24, 2009 raid was triggered by WikiLeaks' publication of Australia's proposed secret internet censorship list. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) told Australian journalists that they did not request the intervention of the German government."

Utah Senate, House Pass Jack Thompson's Game Sales Bill 200

Ars Technica reports that the Utah State Senate and House have both passed Jack Thompson's proposed legislation that would stiffen penalties for the sale of M-rated games to minors. Oddly, on its trip through the state legislature, amendments rendered it largely ineffective; retailers are in the clear if the employee who sold the game goes through a training program, or if the minor misrepresents his age. It's also possible that the bill could cause some retailers to simply take down their ESRB-related advertising. Thompson's statements about the bill put the focus on advertising, but discussion on the Utah Senate floor had a familiar ring, touching on the story of a Grand Theft Auto player who killed two policemen in 2003. The ESRB wrote an open letter in opposition of the bill, saying it could undo the efforts they've made to popularize their rating system. The bill's sponsors fired back, questioning the industry's overall commitment to ratings, and now it awaits only the governor's signature before becoming law.

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